Across the world, fashion is used as a form of identity. This has led to more people contextualizing and taking risks through the creation of trends and styles. However, when it comes to African fashion the mainstream fashion industry reduces it to a single entity. They categorize African fashion to include aspects like:
- Tribal prints
- Afro-fusion designs
- African based boho designs, among others.
What stands out the most is the models displaying these cliché designs are not even of African descent. This has been evidenced in the past through catwalks featuring designs from talented people like Louis Vuitton, Issey Miyake, Valentino, Chloe, Alberta Ferretti, Isabel Marant, Missoni, and even Junya Watanabe. This phenomenon is not new, African homage and culture in the fashion industry has always created a win for cultural appropriation and still had some few shortcomings. Designers of other descent have never been able to display the richness that African culture brings to the fashion industry tactfully.
Nevertheless, thanks to the talent and input of designers in the African Diaspora the globe is finally starting to change its perspective on African fashion. The following are some of the aspects that have changed due to this influence.
- Models- In the past, the fashion industry did not accommodate African models. They limited models to include girls with slender silhouettes solely. This did not accommodate the features of the typical African woman. However, nowadays some the fashion industry has warmed up to the idea of incorporating dark skin, curvy, and plus size models. The modeling industry is a sub-branch of the fashion industry and it has now started to accommodate
- Designs and Textiles- The textile used to create African prints initially came from the wax resist or batik cloth of Indonesia. From years on end, designers have created rip off African designs that misappropriated our culture. They characterized African fashion to include clothing such as safari suits, animal print, and even wax print, among others. Later on, African fashion influence in the Diaspora diffused the situation by incorporating designs such as the dashiki and Ankara clothing. If we decide to limit our options to just these two options, we will find numerous designs and styles. The African patterns create different designs that increase the possibility of creating varied styles of clothing.
- Inspiration- Designers used to discredit Africa, by stating that they came up with the designs after hanging out with people of a particular African culture. However, what the world began to realize the diversity and beauty of African designs. The beauty of African designs is the fact that they come from the diverse cultures all through the continent. In addition to this, each continent has diverse cultures that add some individuality to the designs. Each subculture has a different design that could inspire an entire fashion collection.
- Accessories- Designers used to view African accessories to only Maasai beads and accessories. However, nowadays African-designers are including aspects such as face paints and beads from different African cultures and subcultures.